By Danny Mills

22nd Dec, 2020 | 5:00pm

Exclusive: Mills tips 'Behind closed doors' deal for Aston Villa star amid 'Leak' claim

Danny Mills has tipped Aston Villa to tie down midfielder Douglas Luiz to a long-term contract.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider correspondent Connor Whitley, the former England and Leeds United defender suggested recent reports linking Luiz to Manchester City were “leaked” to given the Brazilian an upper hand in contract negotiations.

The Express & Star report Villa have turned their attention to securing the 23-year-old on a new deal after John McGinn signed a new four-and-a-half-year contract earlier this month.

Luiz moved to Villa Park from Manchester City in the summer of 2019 and the Daily Star reported last month Pep Guardiola is keen on a reunion.

The four-time Premier League champions retain a £25million buy-back clause for the defensive midfielder who has been earmarked as a replacement for Fernandinho, 35.

Asked by Football Insider whether handing Luiz a new contract could issue a hands-off warning to City, Mills said: “Yes, they obviously did that with Grealish. Obviously he has a much bigger affinity to the club.

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“I always look at it, until there’s a firm deal, rumours are often started very, very early on that are smoke and mirrors.

“It’s not very often we see a rumour start way before anything starts that goes on to progress down that line.

“Most deals are done behind closed doors. A lot of these deals that are leaked very, very early are to get clubs interested or to maybe help you out in contract negotiations with your current club.

“It’s no surprise he was linked to City. I’ve been involved in situations myself. It’s what agents do. That’s why bits and pieces are leaked to the media. People start to believe it and it can oil the wheels.”

In other news, Football Insider can reveal Preston, Huddersfield and QPR are in the race to sign a player Aston Villa have made available.